Viet Nam: DPGs for equitable digital education systems
Piloting the adaptation and localization of the Global Digital Library – free early reading resources and VRapeutic – virtual therapy for children with ADHD
Many types of digital technologies and content – from data to apps, data visualisation tools to educational curricula – could accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In Vietnam, UNICEF works to ensure children and adolescents can access and benefit from inclusive education.
The objective of the digital public goods (DPG) pathfinding pilot in Vietnam is to leverage Digital Public Goods to strengthen Vietnam's efforts to digitalize education inclusively and sustainably. As part of the pilot, UNICEF Vietnam is engaging local and international stakeholders in supporting the government to create engaging, effective, and safe digital content and platforms to distribute it, especially to girls, minority children, and children with disabilities. The lessons learned from the pilot will be shared with other countries to help accelerate similar efforts.
Through the DPG registry of the DPG Alliance, we have chosen two solutions with innovative approaches. The first one is the Global Digital Library, with the resource of more than 6000 books in 72 languages for young readers. The second is UNICEF Venture Fund portfolio company VRapeutic, the virtual therapy for children with ADHD using games modules on virtual reality glasses to improve attention skills.
Global Digital Library
UNICEF Viet Nam, in collaboration with the Global Digital Library (GDL) and the Viet Nam National Institute of Educational Sciences (VNIES) (under the Ministry of Education and Training), is aiming to provide access to free, high-quality, digital early grade reading books and reading resources in Vietnamese, 8 ethnic minority languages and sign language.
Over 3000 high-quality digital content products from this pilot and 10 new books were created featuring leading children characters from marginalized communities. The library will be launched in September 2022 and will be introduced to schools and parents nationwide, especially in remote areas.
Here is the link to the local media featuring the Global Digital Library project.
Among tech-based intervention tools, virtual reality has the advantage of providing a complete immersion of the user in an environment of a unique design. This immersion allows specialists to replace the confinement of a standard therapy room with various training situations and scenarios with varying difficulties. This also enables the children to practice attention skills amongst other skills in virtual worlds before applying the acquired skills in the real world.
UNICEF Viet Nam, in collaboration with the National Center for Special Education (under the Ministry of Education and Training), has adapted three VR modules to target three types of attention, namely, sustained, selective, and adaptive attention for children within the developmental age range from 6 to 12 years. VRapeutic will continue to build more content, extending the pilot with more ADHD students, build capacity for teachers at other Inclusive Education Resources Centres nationwide and advocate for parental support, involvement in the intervention.
Challenges and lessons learnt
DPGs that have gone through the validation process with the DPG Alliance gave UNICEF Viet Nam the confidence to propose to local government partners for adaptation and piloting. However, it is essential to manage the expectations of local partners regarding the time required for the adaptation & debugging, especially when new features are built in addition to the existing source code. Involving government institutions from the start has helped to increase the capacity to have DPGs effectively implemented at scale and embedded in the national curriculum and public digital infrastructure.